Sunday, September 24, 2017

Front door decorations

We went to the Pumpkin Patch for another autumnal rite of passage.  Watched them shooting off the pumpkin cannon.  It's a giant air gun that shoots pumpkins up and high over a hill.  After that children were invited to fire off a smaller apple shooter (yes, ammo was apples).  The pumpkin chucker a/k/a trebuchet won't be set up until next weekend.  We found our way through a 'maize maze' w/ no difficulty since we were following some young boys who would run down dead ends, run back, and run ahead on the correct path by the time we caught up w/ them.  I bought some pumpkin and squash to make my front door look a bit more seasonal but we all passed on the caramel apples.  The weekend was fun but unseasonably hot (might have hit 90 one day).  Tonight's thunderstorms should also usher in cooler temps.  Time to start Fall projects!

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Kathy and Nancy on ski hill

Kathy, Nancy, and I all met for a day of Leaf-Peeping activities.  I drove up to the ski hill.  They opened up for the weekend so people could take the ski lift to the top and view the countryside in color.  After that we drove over to the area where Nancy grew up and did some shopping, a little hiking, and had dinner.  It was just beginning to get dark as we started back home. I haven't driven this car after dark since I bought it in June.  The road signs were shining back at me so I knew my lights  were on but as it got darker I realized it wasn't the main headlights. After a little finagling got the lights on and then the high beams.  Wasn't exactly sure how I'd managed it.  A car was coming and suddenly my lights dimmed automatically.  A collective "Oooooh" came from all three of us. My car recognized when the other one had passed and, w/o me doing anything, brought up the high beams. That garnered another "Oooooh" from us.  (You'd never guess we all have a technical backgrounds.)  Anyway, with winter coming, it's obvious I need to get out the manual and learn what other things the car will do in cold/snow/and ice.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Shadowbox for autumn

Went to the Apollonia church for a sing-fest.  The church is about the only building remaining from a thriving community around the turn of the century.  The building was taken over by the local historical society and, as part of the Leaf-Peeping festival this weekend, they and a local church set up the sing tonight.  My friend Nancy and I along w/ Aunt Ruth and Aunt Bev sat at one table in the small church.  Most if not all of the seats were taken.  People would shout out the number of their favorite hymn and we'd sing the first and last verse.  There were a few songs I didn't know but since the music is written right above the words in the hymnals it was easy to figure out.   I could have done w/ a peppier beat on most of the songs but won't complain.  Compared to the butchery done to the old hymns in churches trying to be more 'modern' this was great.   After singing they served refreshments.  I offered to drive Aunt Bev's car back to their place.  Nancy said she would follow us but  Bev averred she was going to drive back on her own.  After all, her driver's licence was just renewed this week!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mountain Ash berries

A good day for doing outdoor kinda stuff.  I picked some tomatoes and peppers growing on the little plants next to the front door.  They are small but perfect sized for an omelet or a salad.  Also harvested the hazelnuts planted near the house.  Any squirrel coming near the house has to get by Indy so I could leave the nuts on the bushes until they ripened.  Trimmed the woodbine out of the lilac bushes.  The woodbine is bright red now so easy to recognize.  Picked some lilac seeds while I was there and put them in my pocket.  Pruned a couple of grape vines.  The didn't produce last year nor this year.  Checked the other grapes - the purple ones are ready to pick but the red ones need just a bit more time for the sugars to develop.  Took down all the hummingbird feeders.  I kept track starting Labor Day.  The hummers stuck around only one week more and took off.  They were here much longer last year.  Wondered if that meant a rough winter was coming but then decided the animals probably weren't much better than weathermen at predictions.  Planted some flower seeds I'd collected in the woods and put another labeled solar light next to them.  Jumped on the mower and mowed the lawn and trails.  Then mowed two new trails through the meadow between the house and the road.  Think I'll use these new paths to plant those lilac seeds I collected today and I'll also plant winterberry and these mountain ash berries.  I've got to get something more than just the tall grasses between the house and that wicked winter north wind.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


This afternoon was the first Lego Club at the Library for the season.  The library didn't have a regular scheduled volunteer for Wednesday afternoons - the former librarian would cover the desk until I came in for my usual 5 - 7 p.m. gig.   I got a call early in the week asking if I would fill in for the afternoon since this would be the first Lego Club experience for the new librarian.   The head of the Lego Club and the librarian collected and then escorted students from the school to the library.  The kids hit the doors like a tsunami - bubbling, gurgling and spreading throughout the racks.   I was given the responsibility of handing out small cups filled w/ animal crackers.  After a child finished their Lego creation they could come to my desk for their treat and then go to the children's corner to hear a book read to them.  This is when I realized that, to me, all little kids kinda look alike.  I'm pretty sure some of the little 'darlings' snookered me by coming back and asking for a second treat.  I'd ask if I hadn't already given them one but they would look me very seriously in the eye and shake their head no.  One of our regular patrons realized my difficulty and said she had some experience in this since she had run a Girl Scout troupe and had Boy Scouts meet at her home.  "It's easier to remember them by what they are wearing than their faces." was her sage advice.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Two-striped Grasshopper

I built the house so my cats could have their own space - it doubles as my utility room.  It works to both of our advantages - they have a place only they can access via the cat door in the study and if I block that door I can keep them from the rest of the house.  Since they have plenty of room in there, I put in a large sandbox for them.  I took a  long low plastic container originally used to store blankets under the bed, removed it's cover and partially filled it w/ kitty litter.  I also placed in the utility room a regular kitty box they used in the Big City.  I had read somewhere that, given two litter boxes, cats will choose to defecate in one and urinate in the other.  That turned out to be true w/ my other cats.  I was curious if the kittens would do the same thing.  I completely emptied and cleaned both boxes.  At first the kittens used whichever box they felt like but I've noticed now that they are urinating in one and defecating in the other.  The interesting thing is they are urinating/defecating in the same boxes the other cats used for '#1' / '#2'.   Of course, there was a 50/50 chance they would.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Northern Flicker by grapevines

Dancing w/ the Stars starts a new season tonight.  I used to really like the show.  They'd have some old time TV stars and even if they didn't last very long into the season it was fun to see them progress through the dances.  I don't know any of the 'stars' this season. Not much else on TV so decided I'd tune in.  Indy used to dance w/ me as we watched but she's getting older now and I don't want her to pull a muscle.  Since Blitzen was sitting on top of the sofa I picked her up and danced w/ her.  She tolerated it.  She seemed more fascinated by my singing.   Next song Dunder was begging to be picked up so I danced w/ him.  Go figure, he started purring.   I might continue watching the show this season for Dunder's sake - and to watch the tall guy in the suit and tie that looked like he was having fun.   Yeah - this is what single people do at night.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Early morning fog in the meadow

Blitzen got me w/ her tiny incredibly sharp claws on my left wrist.  She didn't draw blood but did pull up some skin and my Fitbit kept rubbing on the sores.  This morning I switched the Fitbit to my right hand.  My Fitbit dashboard thinks I was still wearing it on my left non-dominant hand.  I didn't change it - was curious how much of a difference it might make.  Indy and I walked down to the gravel pit and then through the swamps and back home through the cut.  I checked the Fitbit.  Usually that walk is a good 6,000 steps.  Today it registered only around 2,000 steps.  In fact it's taken the whole rest of the day just to get up to 8,000 steps.  I've done informal checks in the past of my Fitbit (worn normally) w/ other Fitbits and they seem about the same.  My left wrist has healed up sufficiently so will change the Fitbit back tomorrow.  Expect a sudden sharp increase in steps.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


Around 2:30 p.m. I and Indy went out onto the deck to read. (Well, I was the only one who did any reading.) I was expecting the southeast side of the deck to have a nice bit of shadow to sit in but there wasn't any. Funny, I remember sitting out there about this time just last month and the deck would be half in shadow. Thought about it and decided it's September. The sun's rising and setting points on the horizon change most dramatically right around the equinoxes. During the Autumnal Equinox the sun will appear to rise and set further to the south than during the summer. Therefore, because of the way my house is situated, the deck stays in full sun longer during the daylight hours. The effect will last until Winter Solstice.  (Of course, the kicker is "during daylight hours" which grow shorter.)    -     The temps have been in the 80's for a couple of days so Indy and I put off our last walk until well after sunset. Showers are predicted for tonight but it was only cloudy when Indy and I took off. We'd done the same thing the night before when the sky had been clear. Last night I could barely make out the path and Indy was just a black mass moving against a gray background. Tonight it seemed much lighter and I could see clearly. The moon wasn't up yet on either night. Why would it appear lighter on a cloudy night than on a clear night? Pretty sure it's partly about light pollution from nearby population centers reflecting off the clouds and partly because of light rays from the sun - which though it is below the horizon - being bent due to changes in the refraction index of the air by thermal variations. Maybe it is more proper to say 'It was a light and stormy night.'

Friday, September 15, 2017

Monarch butterfly

Picked up my mail today.  There was a bill from my credit card company.  It was higher than usual so I checked the listed purchases.   They were from the usual places where I do business.  There was a large one from Northwoods Outdoor Furniture for the bench and footrests I had bought at the Fair.  I expected that one.  There was another large expenditure just under it from White Bear Boat Works located in the Big City. I've never heard of the company nor bought anything like boat equipment. Just great.  Did I get caught in the Equifax security breach?  I pulled out my recent receipts.  None from White Bear  but I stopped when I saw the one from Costigen Minerals.  I'd bought rock spheres at the Fair from them.  Checked the list on the bills - nope that purchase wasn't on it but the one to White Bear was for the exact same amount and on the same day.  I remembered that the owner who had helped me said he had turned the business over to his son.  Suppose it's possible his son uses a different company name or an existing company he already owns.  So am not going to make inquiries into who gets the money - will just pay the bill.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Painted Lady butterflies

 This time of year I like to sit in the chair next to the sedum on the east end of the deck. The sedum is in bloom and it's a magnet for bees and butterflies.   Just from my chair's vantage point, I counted 17 Painted Ladies, 2 Monarchs, 1 moth, and too many bees to count this afternoon.  It's a bit thrilling to be right next to so many little buzzing hypodermic needles of venom. Not to worry, it's perfectly safe.  The bees are intent on finding pollen and pay no attention to anyone or anything else.  When a bee meets a butterfly on the same section of flower it's the butterfly that walks/flies away as the bee barrels through.  The only time I am careful is when I sit down in the chair - need to make sure there isn't an errant bee there first.  Even though it's not a native, I'm planting more Autumn Fire sedum at the other corner of the deck.  It's got unique foliage so is easy to recognize and I don't mow it over, blooms in the autumn when other flowers are getting scarce, takes Northwoods cold winters just fine, and it's like candy bars for the bees.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sewer Sucking

I received a postcard from the county zoning office reminding me it was time to pump my septic tank again.  Rural home owners have to buy and install their own septic systems.  Every five years or so the county dictates that sludge in the bottom of the holding tank needs to be removed by a certified septic cleaning company.   I'm not sure why the county is concerned about the maintenance of my private sewage system but it is.  I'd forgotten that the tanker was coming today until I was hanging out my clothes on the line and saw the truck pulling into my driveway.  So the driver didn't need to walk past my hanging 'under things' I unpinned those few items and tossed them back into the clothes basket.  The operator was a big burly happy guy who was efficient and even serviced my sewer filter.  I clean the filter myself twice a year but only when I have other people at the house - just in case I were to fall into the sewer during the process.  "Not that we would go in after you." My brother pointed out. "But it would be nice to know what happened."

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Paper shredder safety instructions

Got a call from the new librarian this afternoon.  There was a meeting of the library board and she had no one to man the desk during the meeting.  Would I fill in for a couple of hours?  Their meeting would begin at 4 so I came in at 3 to give her a little time to prepare.  Wilma and Nancy, (both board members) are planning on an Oriental-themed display for the library.  They brought in their things tonight so we would be ready tomorrow to work on installation.  While getting her objects for the display together, Wilma found the box her paper shredder had come in.  It was made in China but she won't be displaying it.   Just thought we would like to see a real-life example of  'lost in translation.'

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cat Castle

The kittens go crazy in the morning and consider the whole house to be their American Ninja Warrior workout site.  To try and contain their activities a bit this morning, I took all of the boxes I had at hand and made a 'cat castle' for them w/ hidden rooms and treats in unexpected places.  They loved it. It did the trick and they fell asleep after demolishing it.  This may be a way to keep both them and me occupied this winter - once a week I'll make a new obstacle course for them.